A new campaign by Westpac promoting its support of the Westpac rescue helicopter has triggered a social media backlash from customers claiming the bank is using the rescue service as a marketing vehicle.
The campaign, launched last week, features a man and his son floating near an upturned yacht as the Westpac chopper comes into view.
The ad talks about how the bank has supported the service for 40 years and points out: “Not all Australians are with Westpac, but we’re with all Australians.”
The ad is part of Westpac’s 200th anniversary celebrations and tells the story of the man and his son being rescued.
“He’s a mate. He’s a husband. He’s a father. He’s someone’s brother. A colleague. He’s an electrician by trade. He’s a golfer and a gardener. He’s a sailor, but more of a novice sailor as it turns out. He’s a survivor. And he doesn’t bank with Westpac.”
Online versions of the ads have quickly attracted criticism from some sectors of the community, with many people accusing the bank of emotional blackmail.
“This is an offensive ad,” one person wrote on Westpac’s Facebook page.
“Australians should bank with Westpac just in case they need rescuing by the Westpac helicopter?? Is that a threat?”
A spokesperson for the bank said it would not comment on the social media backlash or how Westpac was handling complaints.
However, it confirmed the bank’s social media team was responding to the online comments, many of which were highlighting a bad experience with the bank or complaining about not passing on interest rate drops.
Westpac staff were offering help online for those with specific complaints while apologising to those who felt the ad was inappropriate. The social media team was also thanking posters who said they liked the ad.
“Thanks Andrea, we really love these ads, too! We wanted to showcase the awesome lifesaving work of the Westpac Lifesaving Rescue Helicopters and crew, we’re proud of our association and support of them for over 40 years,” the reply to one post said.